"I have been coming to Headway Cambridgeshire since 2014. I was twenty five when I was diagnosed with a brain tumour which was operated on successfully, but in 2012 it came back again and I had a stroke during the second operation.
I had three months in hospital and had to learn how to stand and walk again. I still haven’t recovered the use of my left arm. I didn’t believe that I would ever be able to go back to my previous job as a tax advisor.
I came to Headway Cambridgeshire to help me to find out if I would ever be able to resume my working life. I didn’t want to go back into the office without seeing if I would be able to concentrate and interact with other people again. I didn’t quite realise just how much damage my brain injury had done. Having a brain injury doesn’t just change you physically; it also takes away your confidence.
After being at Headway a few months doing work on my short term memory and learning about managing fatigue and spending time with people who understood completely what I had been through and what I still had to face, I was able to return to work for a day a week. Now I am going into the office three days a week. I was very fortunate in that my employers have been very supportive and they kept my job open.
People think that brain injuries are sorted out in hospitals, and it’s true that a lot of the rehabilitation work is done there, but it’s when you come out and have to learn how to get back some of your old life that Headway is so important. Many of the effects are hidden. You can’t see the emotional impact it has from the outside.
I take part in sessions at Headway and am able to explore things I never did before such as working on a board game to improve memory and taking part in a heritage research project looking into the history of brain injury. I was never much of an artist before but I find the art sessions in the hub very enjoyable and relaxing.
When I sustained my brain injury the old me died and that was very hard to come to terms with. I couldn’t do many of the things I had been able to do before, but I have found out that you just have to forget your old self and concentrate on what you are able to do. I play football for the Cambridge United Disability team- I was spotted playing one-armed golf by a man who was passing by and asked if I wanted to join. I tell all my friends that I was scouted by Cambridge United!
It can be a difficult life. You never forget how it was before, but Headway has helped me to move on. People with brain injuries need Headway as a stepping stone on to the rest of their life. I want to carry on getting stronger- working more, getting the use of my arm back, coping as best I can with whatever the future holds."